Tag Archives: bake

‘Smores Brownies

Shopping List:

1 package fudgy brownie mix of choice

1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 16-ounce package mini-marshmallows

12-16 graham crackers, divided along the perforation into 4 pieces each

Instructions:

1. Bake the brownies in a 9 x 13 pan according to the package directions. Test for doneness by inserting a knife in the center. If it comes out clean or with a crumb or two, then the brownies are cooked through.

2. Immediately remove the brownies and turn the oven up to the Broil at High level. Top the brownies with the chocolate chips and enough of the marshmallows to cover the brownies (about 2/3 of  a 16 oz pakage).

3. Put the brownies in the super hot oven and watch them as the marshmallows quickly begin to puff up and brown. Remove the brownies when the marshmallows are  golden brown. Watch carefully, this only takes about 2 minutes.

4. Once you’ve removed the brownies, press the graham rectangles into the melty mallows. Let it all cool, and then when you are ready to cut it up spray your knife with cooking spray to help with cutting through the melted marshmallows.

Makes approximately 24 brownies

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Bacon and Carmelized Onion Pinwheels

In my former life when I held dinner parties for adults, rather than kids, I used to pull out every stop to make an impression with some star ingredients. And I think I kind of do the same thing now, but with a more realistic working-mom approach. With that idea I still love to include food that caters to adults, but with flavors that kids will enjoy too. And the icing on the cake is that I’ve come to realize that a few shortcuts that help to make it seem like I’ve fussed a lot, is certainly worth it.

So one of my favorite shortcuts that makes everything fancier is puff pastry dough. You can easily throw anything in there, and it tastes like you’ve slaved for hours because of the buttery richness of the dough. So, this classic pinwheel appetizer marries some wonderful flavors that certainly impress and at the same time is pretty easy to throw together with a kid or two underfoot. I guess I will need post some of my other favorites with puff pastry, like empanadas and custard pies.

Shopping List:

2 sheets puff pastry thawed

1 onion, carmelized (see instructions below)

1 cup crumbled cooked center cut bacon (see this post for a simple technique)

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

4 Tablespoons deli mustard

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk together the egg and water, then set it aside to use later.

3. Lay out the puff pastry sheets on a floured surface to prevent sticking.

4. Spread 2 tablespoons of mustard on each sheet. You want to try and leave a 1/2 inch border on one of the short ends, but otherwise paint a thick layer of this good stuff.

5. Divide the carmelized onion in half and evenly distribute it on top of the mustard.

6. Again, divide the bacon in half and chuck it on top of the onions.

7. Now here’s the tricky part, start rolling it all up from the short end of the pastry. Try and make it as tight as possible, so pull and stretch if you need.

8. Using a serrated knife cut each roll into 1/2 slices. Try to use a gentle sawing motion, so as not to rip the dough. I ended up cutting about 15 slices in each of mine.

9. Place them cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. The brush with the egg wash and sprinkle the parmesan on top.

10. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden on top. I ended up baking both sheets at the same time, to save a bit of time, but if you do the same, just make sure to rotate your trays half way through so that the bottom tray gets some sun too. Also, it allows for even baking. Enjoy!

CARMELIZED ONIONS: a lovely base to many a good dish.

In a large saute pan on high heat pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil for a minute so that the oil is hot. Meanwhiile slice your onion. Slice them however thick you like, but know that the thinner you slice the faster they carmelize. Once the oil is hot, add your sliced onion, and coat it in the oil. Let it cook for a couple of minutes until the onions become translucent. At this point you can turn the heat down to medium-low, and let it cook away–ignoring it slightly.  You do want to make sure you stir them, so they brown evenly though. It will take about 30-45 minutes for them to get really sticky, so if you’re short on time, do a big batch to use all week and they will definitely freeze well in a freezer safe bag. Having these on hand certainly comes in handy when at the dinner crunch. You can slap them on a burger or sandwich for sure, or you can plop them on some chicken for French Onion Chicken or use them as the starter to a French Onion Soup or slide them inside a tortilla for an inspired take on a quesadilla. The possiblities are endless.

Indulgent Chocolate Bread Pudding

What’s moist and spongy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and a chocolatey mess  all over. This dessert! It is perfect for a Sunday night dinner, since you can make it in advance, and let it bake while you are eating the meal.

This recipe idea was sparked by the fact that for a while now, I’ve been trying to find incentives for my picky eaters to finish their meals and unfortunately what works is the appeal of a treat after dinner–which in all reality if they finished their meal, they should have seconds not dessert. But the real reality is that I am so excited that they’ve finished what I put on their plate, I don’t mind treating them.

Anyway, after the holidays and all of the goodies that have come our way, I thought I’d try and sneak in some healthier versions of treats (more of these to come soon). Since I figure that with bread pudding we are getting some protein and fiber from the eggs and the bread, so if I reduce the sugar it’s not so bad for us as treats go. Don’t get me wrong, this is still not a granola trail mix cookie or any other super healthy treat. But it is pretty darn good.

Shopping List:

3 cups of torn bread (I used 5 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread)

1 egg plus 1 yolk

 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup semi -sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. In a medium pot on high heat bring 1/2 cup of the milk and all of the sugar to a boil.

2. And then, add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is melted into the milk. Then take it off the heat.

3. Slowly whisk in the eggs, the remaining milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

4. Place the bread cubes in a 4 cup glass baking dish and pour the chocolate mixture over the bread. Push the bread down so that it is all drenched in the chocolate.

5. Set this small dish inside a larger 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish and fill with 1 inch of warm water. This is called a water bath, it allows the pudding to cook evenly. Bake for 55-65 minutes at 325 degrees. To serve, dust with powdered sugar or top with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves:4

Adapted from: The Joy of Cooking

Everything-Pizza Pasta Bake

One of my favorite all-time comfort meals has to be pizza with everything on it. Now, I didn’t always like it this way, and for sure I don’t always like this filling version of pizza. But it definitely has a solid place in my heart. I don’t know, I think it’s something about the blend of the spiciness of the meats and the freshness of the veggies all smothered in cheese.

Ok, so this recipe won’t be going on your Trying-to-Get-in-Shape-for-the-New-Year Diet, but it certainly is a great make-ahead meal that you can twist to suit your family’s tastes. Also, it’s a lot easier than trying to master making fresh pizza dough in a flash.

Shopping List:

3 links of mild or spicy, fresh Italian sausage

1/2 cup of sliced pepperoni, cut in half

8 ounces of sliced mushrooms

1 green pepper, diced

4-ounce can of sliced olives

1 (16-ounce) box of your favorite dry pasta (as a side note, the kinds that have nooks and ridges are best to allow the sauce to cling well)

4 ounces cream cheese, block style

2 cups of your favorite Marinara sauce (click here for mine)

1 teaspoon garlic salt

5 fresh basil leaves

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

1.Start the pot of water to prepare your favorite pasta noodle shape. Follow the directions on your package of noodles once your water is boiling. See my suggestions above for types to use here.

2. In a large saute pan on medium heat, squeeze the sausage out of the casing and cook it until it is no longer pink. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Just about this time your water might be boiling, so go ahead and pop those noodles in and set a timer.

3. Remove the sausage from the pan, but continue to leave the pan on medium heat and add the mushrooms and green peppers to the pan. Cook these about 5 minutes or until the peppers are beginning to soften, but have not totally changed color.

4. In a separate small sauce pan over medium heat, stir the marinara and the cream cheese until they make a nice creamy pink sauce. Then take it off the heat.

5. Now, add the pasta and all the toppings into the large pot you used for the noodles, and stir in the sauce. Make sure to cover the noodles well and distribute the sauce.

6. In a buttered, or sprayed with cooking spray, 9 x 13-inch pan spoon in all the mixed up pasta. Top with the shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.

NOTE: If you make this ahead and store it in the fridge, just make sure to take it out of fridge and let it come to room temp for about 30 minutes before you need to put it in the oven. When you’ve got it ready to put it in the oven to rewarm, spray some foil with cooking spray and cover the dish. Warm it until the center is warm throughout, about 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

Stuffed Artichoke: a solution for leftover stuffing

What’s prickly on the outside, but tender and buttery on the inside? An artichoke, of course. Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. And yes, I do end up dunking mine in a whole lot of butter most of the time, but on occasion I have turned these little flowers into a meal by stuffing them with what else…stuffing!

It’s the perfect solution to what to do with leftover stuffing, if you end up with any, that is. Once you have the stuffing cooked, just pry open your prepared artichoke and fill the leaves to the brim and bake it off. Pretty simple and a wholle lot of fun for the kids (and grown ups) to eat.

Shopping List:

4 medium-sized fresh artichokes, with stems and leaves trimmed

1 1/3 cups of leftover stuffing (click here for my Bacon Apple Stuffing)

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.After trimming the artichokes, pull the lower two or three layers of leaves out and down a bit so that you can shove in the stuffing. You’ll end up breaking a few of the leaves, but that’s okay. Just make sure they all stay attached or it will end up pretty messy.

the before picture, notice how the one on the right the leaves have been separated a bit.

3. With a small spoon nudge in about a tablespoon of stuffing on each leaf. Try to use about 1/3 of a cup of stuffing per artichoke. If you like cheese, a tablespoon of mozzarella over each is a nice touch too.

4. Once stuffed place them in a dutch oven (or a deep casserole dish) with about an inch of water at the bottom.

5. Then bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until leaves will be easy to pull.

Serves 4.

Pizza Pop ‘Ems

Pizza Pop 'ems

Even though we eat plenty of pizza around here, I am always looking for new ways to ways to serve food that’s fast and fun. These make a perfect afterschool snack or a portable lunch. Plus you can pop these in the freezer and just reheat them in the microwave for a minute and a half and you’re good to go. Hey, if you’re more adventurous than I am, make your own biscuits.

Shopping List:

1 package of refrigerated biscuit dough (8 biscuits)

1/3 cup of spaghetti sauce or my simple tomato sauce here

12 fresh mozzarella cheese balls

1/4 chopped pepperoni or mini pepperoni

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oven to the temperature indicated on the dough package. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Take each biscuit and separate it into 2 pieces horizontally. Press each half into  and up the sides of the muffin cup.

the before picture

3. Top each with a tablespoon of sauce, one mozzarella ball, a tablespoon of pepperoni and a tablespoon of parmesan.

4. Bake in the oven 12 minutes.

Makes 16 muffins

Oatmeal Streusel Muffins

The overwhelming smell of brown sugar and cinnamon baking in the oven takes over the kitchen. And I begin to swoon. Of course it becomes unavoidable that I will devour this streusel topping. Oh yeah, there’s a muffin attached to it. Did I mention that? I mean look at that photo. It’s begging me to gobble it up. Quickly I am snapped back to reality when the question is posed: “Mommy,when will the muffins be ready?”

My Big Boy was hoping I would make these for the first day of school and that’s when I realized why not try to substitute some of the flour with oatmeal.  This is yet another validation of my love of muffins. They turned out fab!

Shopping List:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick cook  dry oatmeal

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2/3 cup butter or shortening

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/3 cups buttermilk ( or 1 1/3 cups milk plus 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon lemon juice mixed together)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, I didn’t use them in this batch).

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or cupcake liners.

2.  In a large mixing bowl combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and salt. Cut in the butter or shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture.

3. To the remaining crumb mixture add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.

4. In a separate small bowl combine buttermilk and eggs. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Divide batter amongst the 12 muffin cups. Stir together reserved crumb mixture and nuts if using them. Divide this mixture over each muffin cup. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Poke it with a toothpick or knife and check that it comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, page 308.